Football: Abby Erceg retires again ahead of Football Ferns' clash with Japan

The star defender was a shock omission from New Zealand's squad to face Japan.
The star defender was a shock omission from New Zealand's squad to face Japan. Photo credit: Photosport

Former captain Abby Erceg is the shock omission from the squad from the Football Ferns squad for the upcoming friendly against Japan in Wellington on June 10.

The world-class centre-back has retired for the second time, despite making her return to the side earlier this year against Scotland.

Erceg quit New Zealand Football in February last year, claiming the Football Ferns weren't valued, nor adequately supported by the national body.

But she came back and played a crucial role in securing equal pay for the women's team and was involved in the recent collective bargaining agreement earlier in the month.

She has represented New Zealand 133 times since making her debut in 2006.

When contacted by Newshub, Erceg did not wish to comment on her reasons for her retiring again.

Despite the 28-year-old's absence, coach  Andreas Heraf has named an experienced 21-strong squad, which features 10 players with over 50 games worth of experience, along with two uncapped players to face Japan. 

"We know that we will have a very tough challenge on our hands when we play Japan in Wellington next month," said Heraf.

"Knowing about the high quality of the runners-up from the last World Cup and missing a few very important players in our team due to injuries will make it very difficult for us. Nevertheless, we will try to compete with one of the world's best teams, hopefully, supported by a big crowd at Westpac."

Heraf said this is an essential game for preparing for the challenge they expect to face, if they are to qualify, at the FIFA World Cup in France next year.

"We still have a long way to go to be ready for the World Cup next year and to achieve our big goal to reach the round of last 16, but I am convinced that we will get closer and closer with every tour we work together."

Olivia Chance, Ria Percival and Daisy Cleverley were unavailable for selection due to injury.

Football Ferns squad to face Japan

Anna Leat, Erin Nayler, Nadia Olla, Liz Anton, CJ Bott, Anna Green, Sarah Morton, Meikayla Moore, Ali Riley, Rebekah Stott, Stephanie Skilton, Katie Bowen, Betsy Hassett, Annalie Longo, Emma Rolston, Paige Satchell, Malia Steinmetz, Sarah Gregorius, Amber Hearn, Hannah Wilkinson, Rosie White